The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Gems Stained Glass Panel

I bought several bags of the round colored glass gems from Hobby Lobby. I initially used them on candle shelters. I have been trying to figure out a way of using these in a stained glass panel. I saw a geometric design on the Internet that I modified to use these glass gems.


I bought the bevels from

Color Combination for round Gems

I had my 95 year old mother in law help me figure out 2 different color combinations for the first panel. The first one below is the one she chose.  The 2nd photo below is another attractive option.

Lead Selection

I used RH-3 and RU-90 lead from anything in Stained Glass. It worked well on the orange box project and orange panel project. It is about the smallest lead sizes they sell.

Zinc Frame

Brass Hangars

I bought these from Delphi

Glass Selection

For the outer 3/4" wide border, I picked a Hobby Lobby glue chip glass.  For the interior clear glass, I picked a rippled glass from the Cracked Glass stained glass shop in Urbana, Illinois. I don't know how to decode the part number on that one.

When I cut the first piece of rippled glass, I got a cut and had to use a band aid.  The ripples or little humps are very sharp, and I got a minor small cut just from picking up the glass. On the other pieces, I ran them through the grinder just to knock off the sharp edges and got no more cuts.

Setting up the Morton Glass Cutting system

I have cut hundreds of pieces of rectangular glass using this system.........but I have never cut parellelegrams or diamonds using this system.  I googled it, and found this photo.....

The pieces in this photo don't quite match my set of accessories, so I played around my stuff.  I cut out a paper pattern of the diamond from Sketchup.  When I went to set the angle on the Morton system, the paper slid under the metal bar.   Then I noticed a plastic angle tool, so I set the angle on the tool, then using the tool, transferred it to the set-up.

This set-up should allow me to make many identical diamonds required for this project. I think I can cut some of them in 1/2 by freehand ok.....because some of the pieces are half diamonds.

I will need to verify the set-up when first cutting strips, then cutting diamonds to make sure I have the right size.......before cutting many of minimize grinding at assembly.

Zinc hiding too much of bevel

I took a short piece of ZB-375 zinc frame material..........and a piece of RH-3 lead......with a 3/4" wide make sure the bevel would lay pretty case there was a height mismatch between the zinc and the lead........and there was not.

But, I noticed the zinc frame will hide a lot more of the bevel than the lead will................zinc hides 5/32".........and lead will only hide 1/16".....or 2/32".   I guess options include.....

1. using wider bevel like 1" versus the 3/4" wide that I ordered.

2. add a 3/4" or 1" wide border of the same clear glass that I used for center

the difference will not be as noticable on the clear glass as on the bevel.

Food for thought.

So, I added a 3/4" wide clear border to the panel.

Build Method

I decided to use 45 degree angles for the zinc at the bottom, then 90 degree butt joints at the top, because the butt joint is needed for the handy hangers.  I left the 2 side pieces long during the build. I will cut the top frame piece to fit inside the 2 vertical borders...........solder it up.........then use the Dremel to cut off the 2 verticals.............that way I did not have to dis-assemble the sides and re-assemble to cut them to length before soldering.

Adjusting cutting process for wavy center glass

I wanted the waves to run vertically on the panel.  So, the 1st cut on the piece of glass had to be at an angle............and the second cut was at the same angle, with the piece rotated. If orientation was not an issue with the glass picked, one could cut at 90 degrees on the 1st cut...........then take those pieces and cut them at an angle.

Slight error on Sketchup print-out versus actual build

I did not take the time in Sketchup to show the 1/16" allowance space between each piece of glass that is needed for the lead came.  I started building on the bottom, and let the bevels set the final width and height of the panel. 

About Finished Building Panel

Project Statistics

Ready to solder

Protecting Bevels

I read on the Facebook group Stained Glass Addicts, that some people protect the bevels from being damaged.  When I washed the finished panel, I just used a sponge and hot soapy water to clean the panel.  I only used the brass bristle brush to clean some white paint letters or marks I had on the glass............I had no damage to the bevels.

Dremel to shorten 2 vertical zinc frame bars

After I soldered both sides with the 2 vertical zinc frame pieces being long by design.........I put a fiber reinforced wheel on my Dremel, then cut the 2 pieces to length to match the soldered in top horizontal frame piece. This worked fine.  Then I soldered in the 2 Handy Hangers.

I decided the panel looked just fine with no black patina, so no patina was applied.

Finished Panel indoors

Finished Panel in the Sunlight

Closing Thoughts on this project

I wish I could say I just cut the parallelogram pieces using the Morton system, and they all fit perfectly except grinding out the clearance for the gems............but that is not how it worked out.  I did cut all the parallelograms at the beginning, but as I went I sometimes had to grind them to fit.

The Hobby Lobby gems have irregular shaped outside diameters, which require some custom grinding of the mating glass.

I am using the smallest H lead sold by Anything in Stained  It is sometimes hard to tell if you have all the glass fully inserted into this small lead on the back side, that you can't see until you solder the front side and turn it over. When I turned my panel over after soldering the front side, I had 1 spot where the glass was not inserted into the round lead for a gem.  Hopefully, I will be the only one that notices this!  On a future project, I could try 1 size bigger H shaped lead came, and see if it is easier to get the glass all shoved into the lead.

Also, I used the Dremel with a sanding drum to remove any sharp points that I feel by rubbing my hand over the panel.  You need to be careful and not sand the gems, if you are trying to remove a sharp point around the gem.  I slightly nicked one, but hopefully nobody notices but me !

If I do another panel like this one, I might take the time to make the Sketchup pattern more correct with respect to allowing 1/16" between pieces for the H lead came. This might reduce the amount of grinding required.  It is really tough to set up the Morton system to get exactly the parallelogram size you want.  It takes quite a bit of trial & error work to do this.

All in all, a fun project !